18 years of Disgaea is a lot to unpack. The first title reached EU shores back in 2004 but the first launch of the series was a year prior in Japan with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness on the PS2. The series is known for great SRPG (strategy role play game) gameplay with an isometric viewpoint and incredibly high allowances for stats leading to levels in the thousands. The stories typically involve the netherworld in some way and although they all take place in a similar universe, nothing is really that binding and there’s only 1 canonical sequel and that’s Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness on PS3. There’s a lot of goodness to be had so here’s a breakdown of some of the best bits!
The easiest to learn –
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance PS4 / NS
Disgaea 5 was released before the remaster of Disgaea 1 and was everything the previous games brought to the table and a lot more. It’s quicker to get into and easier to figure out than the previous entries, with little hints and tips dotted around for you to find. The classes, systems and a slower pacing into the mechanics makes Disgaea 5 the easiest for newcomers. There is a free to play demo that’s surprisingly huge and this is on both systems. It’s a great way to see it’s for you and your progress carries into the main game. With the Complete edition now including all the extra DLC you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
The game that isn’t an SRPG at all –
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? PSP / NS
If you really want to enjoy some Disgaea content and don’t really like strategy games at all, the 2 Prinny games might be for you. There is a manga and an anime series based on the first Disgaea game but they’re hard sells to non-fans as they are kinda disappointingly generic. There’s a visual novel on the PSP (Disgaea Infinite) but again this is based on Disgaea 1 and you’ll get a lot more from the story knowing who everyone is first. This leaves us with the recently ported Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero and Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! Ghouls and Ghosts style action platformer games not for the faint of heart. If you want to read more on this check out my review of the NS ports here.
The one nobody really remembers –
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories PSP / PC
It’s odd how Disgaea 2 feels like the forgotten title in the series. It did receive a port to PC but like Disgaea PC and various other PSP ports; it feels a lot like a very rough port of the original PSP release. Disgaea 2 doesn’t do anything particularly wrong and a lot of the side characters and mechanics carry through to the other games with the side character Axel now a firm fan-favourite. If you fancy playing an entry that bucks the trend of the anti-hero protagonist then this one’s definitely for you.
The most interesting story –
Disgaea 4 Complete+ PS4 / NS / PC
Saying which title has the most interesting story is always going to be a subjective thing but personally I find Disgaea 4 takes the title easily. I adore the first Disgaea but due to having replayed it so many times and in so many different formats, the story no longer holds as much interest for me. I do enjoy seeing Laharl turning up in other titles but it’s the story of sardine eating Valvatorez that keeps me hooked throughout. When I pick up a Disgaea game to replay, I don’t push on through to completion that often but Disgaea 4 is definitely the best for the story content. If you want to read a little more on the port to the Switch read the review here.
The one set in a school –
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention PS3 / Vita
I’ll admit, I never really clicked with Disgaea 3. Set in a Netherworld school, teaching demons the way of the world, it feels to me a little too high school anime mixed with Disgaea tropes. There are the enjoyable twists and turns throughout the story and it is blended with the usual Disgaea humour and flavour but the magi-change system never made a lot of sense to me when I first played it. Now I’ve played the following games I can see the appeal and the heart vault is an interesting idea. Playing Disgaea 3 on a Vita is the best and that’s where I found most of my time playing. It is criminal how it hasn’t been ported to PC or anything else yet but you can read about how it plays on the Vita here.
The Classic –
Disgaea 1 Complete PS4 / NS
I really want to call it the best but it’s far more accurate to call Disgaea 1 a classic. If you want the original, the coke, the FF7 of Disgaea then pick up Disgaea 1 Complete on the Switch or PS4. It has fantastic world building, gameplay and a story that resulted in many spin-offs and other media entries. There’s a good reason the cast keep appearing as DLC in NIS games, although I can’t see anyone being added to Smash just yet. The original PS2 Disgaea release was ported to almost everything from DS to mobile phones but the Complete remaster is the stunning in HD. If you still want further convincing on how good it is, you can read about how the remaster plays on PS4 here.
The Future –
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny NS
The first fully 3D character modelled Disgaea! I can’t say I’m very excited for the change in style but the more images and videos that are shown, the more it looks like the 3D style has been used to improve things rather than subtract. One of the things I’ve adored about the series so far is the luscious spritework but that being said I’m looking forward to what new mechanics and story they bring to the series. Will I spend days grinding the second it arrives? Of course. You can expect to see a review on the site after launch on the 22nd June 2021. Watch this space dood!
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